Feedback to Portland police LGBTQ+ training alleges ‘woke’ content

PORTLAND, Ore. (KGW) — After a training for Portland Police Bureau employees on interactions with LGBTQ+ people in 2022, many of the anonymous responses from officers and other staff called it a “waste of time” or expressed outright hostility.

“This is the most ridiculous and demeaning training I have ever had to sit through,” one PPB employee wrote. “The assumption that I need to be TAUGHT this information because you think I am going to treat people worse or better due to their orientation is insulting. FYI it’s either male or female … period.”

The city of Portland posted a transcript of the feedback and a YouTube link to the training videos this week following a public records request from the Oregonian/OregonLive, the outlet reported.

The series of short videos were rolled out shortly after PPB adopted a new directive, “Interacting with Members of the LGBTQIA2S+ / Queer Community,” in March 2022.

The videos combine informational segments from PPB leaders, video statements from LGBTQ+ speakers and animations depicting possible scenarios that PPB officers or staff might encounter.

PPB leaders explain in the introduction that the purpose of the training is to aid officers in communicating with respect and sensitivity to LGBTQ+ people, primarily by asking them how they’d prefer to be addressed.

After the training, PPB employees were prompted to either specifically comment on the usefulness of the online learning format or provide additional comments. A minority of the feedback — less than a quarter of comments — expressed positivity about the training; either about the format, subject matter or both.

The vast majority of comments fell into one of three roughly equal camps: fairly practical suggestions about how the training could be improved, expressions of indifference or opinions that the training was a “waste of time,” and outright hostility to the “woke” subject matter it contained.

“Stop the pronoun ignorance. How dumb can you be to pretend and call an individual person, ‘they’ or ‘them,'” one commenter said. They continued, “How stupid are you for pretending this is legit. What has happened to common sense?”

“Stop wasting our time focusing on the emotional fragility of a minuscule population that’s offended by everything,” another respondent wrote.

It’s unclear how many PPB employees who viewed the video did not decide to leave a comment, but the published feedback document contained about 250 comments.

A number of commenters complained about the fact that the training had a handful of interactive elements, asking that they answer multiple choice questions following certain sections. This meant that they needed to actually engage with the training rather than having it play while they did other things.

‘Indicative of racism, ableism and white supremacy’

Some of the troubling themes found in the responses were first flagged by the law firm Rosenbaum & Associates, which was hired by the city of Portland to act as compliance officer following a 2014 settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice.

The law firm delivers quarterly reports regarding PPB’s compliance with the terms of the settlement. In a draft report released April 11 for the last quarter of 2022, Rosenbaum & Associates expressed concerns about the anonymous feedback and a seeming lack of response by PPB leadership.

“The anonymous survey feedback from some officers was indicative of racism, ableism and white supremacy,” the report noted. “Different units within the PPB have held meetings to discuss these signs of bias, and they shared these concerns with the administration. The general conclusion was that the PPB cannot control a member’s thoughts but only their behavior on the job.

“Last quarter, the City informed us that they would respond to the problematic ideologies expressed in the surveys, but as of the writing of this report, we have yet to see a response … As we expressed in our previous report, these attitudes and perspectives can come to bear on how PPB members treat members of the Portland community as well as their fellow officers. While we are not suggesting that the Bureau infringe on any member’s First Amendment rights, we request that the Bureau officially respond to the feedback while emphasizing that the ideologies expressed have no place within the PPB.”

While the majority of more hostile comments were directed at the gender identity subject matter of the video, a number of them singled out a Black Lives Matter banner visible in the background chosen by one of the speakers.

“Black Lives Matter is a political organization that funded the assault and attack of officers nationwide as well as officers here in Portland,” one commenter wrote. “The insertion of this background in this video pushes a political agenda and once again, is highly inappropriate. No officer or member should be forced to accept a violent political organization’s agenda or it’s representation to prove that they care about ALL people.”

One response, seemingly without a trace of irony, identified with the character in the video who became reflexively hostile upon being respectfully asked how he’d like to be addressed:

“Your best training yet — hilariously ridiculous. Another colossal waste of time LOL. (Redacted) in the video is correct — everything is too PC these days. Everyone needs to chill and stop being so sensitive. I will NEVER ask anyone for their preferred pronouns. This woke agenda is insane. I guess it’s time to resign like everyone else.”

Several other PPB employees indicated that they would have preferred more training on weapons or tactics, with one respondent calling the training about interacting with certain members of the public “irrelevant to law enforcement.”

KGW reached out to the Portland Police Bureau for comment but has received no response.


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